Starbox begin
name =Betelgeuse, Alpha Ori
Starbox image

caption = Betelgeuse is the upper left star (pink arrow) in the rectangle of bright stars in Orion.
Starbox observe
epoch = J2000.0
constell = Orion
ra = RA|05|55|10.3053cite web
title =SIMBAD query result: V* alf Ori -- Semi-regular pulsating Star
publisher=Centre de Données astronomiques de Strasbourg
dec = DEC|+07|24|25.426
appmag_v = 0.58 (0.3 to 1.2)
Starbox character
class = M2Iab
b-v = 1.85
u-b = 2.06
variable = SR c (Semi-regular)
Starbox astrometry
radial_v = +21.0
prop_mo_ra = 27.33
prop_mo_dec = 10.86
parallax = 7.63
p_error = 1.64
absmag_v = −5.14
Starbox detail
age = 1.0 × 107
metal =
mass = 14
radius = 630
rotation = 17 years (14.6 km/s)cite journal
author=Uitenbroek, H.; Dupree, A. K.; Gilliland, R. L.
title=Spatially Resolved Hubble Space Telescope Spectra of the Chromosphere of α Orionis
journal=The Astronomical Journal
year=1998 | volume=116 | pages=2501–2512
luminosity = 63,000 (40,000–100,000)
temperature=3,500cite journal
author=Lobel, A.; Dupree, A. K.
title=Modeling the Variable Chromosphere of α Orionis
journal=The Astrophysical Journal
year=2000 | volume=545 | pages=454–474
accessdate=2007-02-04 | doi = 10.1086/317784
Starbox catalog
names = Alpha Orionis, 58 Ori, HR 2061, BD+7°1055, HD 39801, SAO 113271, FK5 224, HIP 27989.

Betelgeuse (pronEng|ˈbiːtəldʒuːz or IPA|/ˈbɛtəldʒuːz/ [OED] ) ( α Ori, α Orionis, Alpha Orionis) is a semiregular variable star located 640 light-years away from, " [ Betelgeuse (Alpha Orionis)] - Update 2008", retrieved 9 October 2008] It is the second brightest star in the constellation Orion and the ninth brightest star in the night sky. Although Betelgeuse has the Bayer designation "alpha", Rigel (Beta Orionis) is usually brighter (Betelgeuse is a variable star and is on occasion brighter than Rigel). The star is a vertex of the Winter Triangle asterism. Astronomers believe Betelgeuse is only a few million years old but has evolved rapidly because of its huge size. [cite web
title=Betelgeuse | work=SolStation

Betelgeuse is a red supergiant and one of the most luminous and largest stars known. For comparison, if the star were at the center of our solar system its surface might extend out to between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter, wholly engulfing Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars. The angular diameter of Betelgeuse was first measured in 1920–1921 by Michelson and Pease using an astronomical interferometer on the Mount Wilson 100 inch telescope.


The name is a corruption of the Arabic _ar. يد الجوزاء " _ar. yad al-jawzā", "hand of the central one". The Arabs had earlier called Gemini " _ar. Jauza" ("the central one") but later switched this name to Orion instead. European mistransliteration into Latin during the Middle Ages led to the first character "y" (, with two dots underneath) being misread as a "b" (, with only one dot underneath). Thus throughout the Renaissance the star's name was written as " _ar. Bait al-Jauza" and thought to mean "armpit of the central one" in Arabic. This led to the modern rendering as "Betelgeuse" (although a true translation of "armpit" would be _ar. ابط, transliterated as " _ar. Ibţ", [cite book |author=Kunitzsch, Paul, and Smart, Tim|year=2006|title=A Dictionary of Modern Star Names|pages=p.45|publisher=Sky Publishing|location=Cambridge, MA | isbn=9781931559447 ] hence in 1899 Richard Hinckley Allen mistakenly gave the origin as " _ar. Ibţ al Jauzah").cite book|first=Richard Hinckley | last=Allen|authorlink=Richard Hinckley Allen|year=1963|title=Star Names: Their Lore and Meaning|edition=Revised edition|publisher=Dover Publications|location=New York|isbn=0486210790] In German, the star's name was corrupted even further: it is called "Beteigeuze", because the letter l in the romanised name was mistaken for the letter i.

Because of its rich reddish color the star has also been called "the martial one" and in astrology Betelgeuse portends military or civic honors. This bright star has had many other names:
* " _ar. Al Dhira" (the "Arm")
* " _ar. Al Mankib" (the "Shoulder"),
* " _ar. Al Yad al Yamma" (the "Right Hand"),
* " _hi. Ardra" (Hindi, and name of Hindu Nakshatra),
* " _sa. Bahu" (Sanskrit),
* " _fa. Bašn" (Persian) (the "Arm"),
* " _su. Gula" (Euphratean),
* "Ied Algeuze" ("Orion's Hand"),
* " _co. Klaria" (Coptic) (an "Armlet")
* "Yedelgeuse"

In Chinese, Betelgeuse is known as _zh. 参宿四 (" _zh. Shēnsùsì, the Fourth Star of the Constellation of Three Stars") because the Constellation of Three Stars was at first a name for only three stars in the girdle of the Orion. Four more stars were later added to this constellation but the earlier name stuck.


Betelgeuse's variability in brightness was first described by Sir John Herschel in 1836 when he published his observations of the star in "Outlines of Astronomy", noting the variations increased between 1836-1840, then decreased again. In 1849 he noted a shorter cycle of variability which peaked in 1852. Later observers recorded unusually high maxima with an interval of several years but only small variations between 1957 and 1967. Records of the American Association of Variable Star Observers show maximum brightnesses of magnitude 0.2 in 1933 and 1942, with minimums below magnitude 1.2 in 1927 and 1941. [cite book
first=Robert | last=Burnham
authorlink=Robert Burnham, Jr. | year=1978
title=Burnham's Celestial Handbook: An Observer's Guide to the Universe Beyond the Solar System, Volume 2
pages=1290 | publisher=Courier Dover Publications
location=New York | id=ISBN 0486235688

In 1919 Albert Michelson and Francis Pease mounted a 6-metre (20 ft) interferometer on the front of the 2.5 metre (100-inch) telescope at Mount Wilson Observatory. Helped by John A. Anderson, in December 1920 Pease measured the angular diameter of α Orionis as 0.047 arcseconds. Given the then-current parallax value of 0.018 arcseconds, this resulted in an estimated radius of 3.84 × 108 km (240 million miles). However there was known uncertainty owing to limb darkening and measurement errors. [cite journal
author=Michelson, A. A.; Pease, F. G.
title=Measurement of the diameter of alpha Orionis with the interferometer
journal=Astrophysical Journal | year=1921
volume=53 | pages=249–259
accessdate=2007-06-20 | doi = 10.1086/142603
] [cite web
author=Staff | month =November | year =2000
url =
title =Pease, Francis G (1881–1938)
publisher =Encyclopedia of Astronomy and Astrophysics
accessdate = 2007-06-20
] More recent visible-light observations of Betelgeuse have found the diameter to vary between 0.0568 and 0.0592 arcseconds.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s Betelgeuse became a regular target for Aperture Masking Interferometry visible-light imaging, revealing a number of bright spots on the star's surface, which were thought to result from convection. [cite journal
author=D. Buscher "et al"
title=Detection of a bright feature on the surface of Betelgeuse
journal=Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
year=1990 | volume=245 | pages=7
cite journal
author=R. Wilson "et al"
title=The changing face of Betelgeuse
journal=Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
year=1997 | volume=291 | pages=819
] In 1995 the Faint Object Camera on the Hubble Space Telescope was used to capture the first conventional-telescope image (or "direct-image" in NASA terminology) of Betelgeuse (this was the first of any star other than the Sun). The ultra-violet image revealed a bright patch on the southwestern portion of the star's surface. This patch had a higher temperature than the surrounding stellar photosphere. Visual observation has shown Betelgeuse's rotation axis has an inclination of about 20° to the direction of Earth and a position (or height) angle of about 55°. Hence, the hot spot seen in 1995 is likely one of the star's poles.

Recent infrared measurements of the disk of Betelgeuse gave a mid-infrared angular diameter of 54.7 ± 0.3 milli-arcseconds in November 1999, slightly smaller than the typical visible-light angular diameter. These measurements ignored any possible contribution from hotspots (which are less-noticeable in the mid-infrared) but factored-in some title=Precision Measurements of the Diameters of α Orionis and ο Ceti at 11 Microns
journal=The Astrophysical Journal
year=2000 "> volume=544 | issue=2 | pages=1097–1100
accessdate=2007-06-23 | doi = 10.1086/317264 ]

Observed size

.The actual images were oversampled by a factor of 5 with bicubic spline interpolation, then deconvolved.] [Cite web|last=Gilliland, Ronald|coauthors = L.; Dupree, A. K.|title= First Image of the Surface of a Star with the Hubble Space Telescope|publisher= "Astrophysical Journal Letters" v.463, p.L29 |url=]

Betelgeuse has several features which are of particular interest to astronomers. Because of the size and proximity of this star it has the third largest angular diameter as viewed from Earth,cite journal
author=T. R. Bedding "et al"
title=The angular diameter of R Doradus: a nearby Mira-like star
journal=Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
year=1997 | volume=286 | issue=4 | pages=957–962
] smaller only than the Sun and R Doradus. Moreover, it is one of only a dozen or so stars telescopes have imaged as a visible disk. The angular diameter of Betelgeuse was one of the first to be measured with an astronomical interferometer and the apparent diameter was found to be variable. The distance to Betelgeuse is not known with precision but if this is assumed to be 640 light years, the star's diameter would be about 950 to 1000 times that of the Sun. Betelgeuse has a color index (B-V) of 1.86 and is thought to have a mass of about 20 solar masses.

The precise diameter is hard to define since optical emissions decrease very gradually with radius from the center of Betelgeuse and the color of these emissions also vary with radius. Though only 20 times more massive than the Sun, this star could be hundreds of millions times greater in volume (as with a beach ball compared to a large stadium). Betelgeuse was the first star on which starspots were resolved in optical images by a telescope, first from Aperture Masking Interferometry and later from the Hubble Space Telescope along with more detailed observations by the COAST telescope. [cite journal
author=D. Burns "et al"
title=The surface structure and limb-darkening profile of Betelgeuse
journal=Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
year=1997 | volume=290 | issue=1 | pages=L11–L16

Betelgeuse's photosphere has an extended atmosphere which displays strong lines of emission (rather than absorption). This chromosphere has a temperature no higher than 5,500 K and may stretch outward to 7 times the diameter of the star. This extended gaseous atmosphere has been observed moving both away from and towards Betelgeuse, apparently depending on radial velocity fluctations in the photosphere.

Betelgeuse's fate

It is likely that Betelgeuse will go supernova. Considering its size and apparent young age of only 8.5 million years, it may explode within the next thousand years, or may have already. Since its rotational axis is not toward the Earth, Betelgeuse's supernova might not cause a gamma ray burst in the direction of Earth large enough to damage its ecosystem even from a relatively close proximity of 640 light years. However, a Betelgeuse supernova could easily outshine the Moon in the night sky. [ Betelgeuse could explode as a supernova » Radio Podcasts Earth & Sky ] ]

ee also

*List of largest known stars
*Betelgeuse in fiction


Further reading

*cite journal |last=Tuthill |first=Peter G. |authorlink= |coauthors=Haniff, Chris A.; Baldwin, John E. |year=1997 |month= |title=Hotspots on late-type supergiants |journal=Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society |volume=285 |issue=3 |pages=529–539 |bibcode=1997MNRAS.285..529T |url= |accessdate= |quote=
* "When did it change to red?", The Hindu (a popular English language newspaper in India), Sunday Supplement, January 31-1982.
* [ Interferometric observations of the supergiant stars α Orionis and α Herculis with FLUOR at IOTA] , February 2004
* [ Magnetic activity in late-type giant stars: Numerical MHD simulations of non-linear dynamo action in Betelgeuse]
* [ Invisible Giant: Chandra's Limits on X-rays from Betelgeuse]

External links

* cite web
last=Young | first=John | date=November 24 2006
title=Surface imaging of Betelgeuse with COAST and the WHT
publisher=University of Cambridge
— Images of hotspots on the surface of Betelgeuse taken at visible and infra-red wavelengths using high resolution ground-based interferometers.
* cite web
title=Betelgeuse | work=SolStation

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